Chevening Alumni India (CAI) have been running a series of events focused on tackling sexism. We caught up with Deepti Ameta, a member of CAI, to find out more.

Why did Chevening Alumni India decide to run events about gender equality?

Chevening Alumni India (CAI) was founded in 2015 with an objective to bring together the Chevening Alumni in country.

So far, the Chevening Alumni Programme Fund (CAPF) has enabled CAI to hold public lectures focusing on issues such as healthcare, art, heritage, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), innovation, and social entrepreneurship. These one-off events have made it possible for many alumni to connect and re-connect with one another for personal and professional gains.

One of the most remarkable outcomes of these engagements is the growing recognition for CAI as a potential incubator of solutions to the problems that India faces.

One such issue, which is often debated and referred to, was (and still is) the worry over the rising incidences of gender-based violence in India—particularly the sexual crimes against women and children.

That’s why we created a gender equality movement in 2018. We call it a movement because it is a cross-cutting theme which underpins lots of the activity that the CAI undertakes. We feel that in order to obtain long-term impact, it is imperative that sustained efforts are made on this front.

Why is gender-based violence an important topic to you personally?

I fundamentally believe a fairer world is possible.

However, for me, gender equality is not a destination but a process, a constant journey, a conscious choice. It takes tremendous effort (and an acknowledgement of responsibility for those in privileged positions) to fight back against learned behaviors and create a more gender-equal environment.

With this understanding, I believe that it is important that high achievers, such as Chevening Alumni, confront the issues of power, gender relations, and ensuing inequalities. Many alumni are in influential positions including in government, media, policy, legal, and business sectors, and want to contribute. Building on their motivation, peer-engagement, and collective commitment can be powerful and bring a truly lasting change.

Can you tell us about one or two of the events that you have run so far this year? What did you achieve through them?

The biggest challenge in launching the gender equality movement was to narrow down the focus in the interest of time, resources, and keeping up the morale of a diverse group which is spread across a geographic area of 3.287 million km².

The Gender Equality Movement Task Group (formed by alumni interested in gender equality issues) focuses on sexual violence against women specifically. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a leading issue because it is topical, given the increasing numbers of women in the workplace, and alumni can relate to it as most of them are working professionals.

It’s also an entry point for us all to start looking at our own behaviours, attitudes, and misconstrued ideas about gender and gender norms.

So far, we have run events, a social media campaign, a survey, and academic research on the issue of sexual harassment. We have stimulated debate and created actionable solutions which are informing our next steps.

What are CAI’s next steps?

The resulting actions for the CAI are to:

  • Produce a paper capturing learnings on this issue.
  • Create a pool of Master Trainers (consisting of interested alumni) to create awareness on gender inequality within their personal and professional capacities.
  • Develop standards for employers to address the gaps in creating safer workplaces.
  • Take measures to work with children at a young age, before gender biases become deeply rooted.

We hope that the movement will continue indefinitely.

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